RIDGEFIELD – Cooper Rons called the outing likely the most efficient of his young career, and it’s easy to see why.
In his second start for the Ridgefield Raptors, the plan was to build up the 6-foot-2 right-handed UC Santa Barbara pitcher from 45 pitches one week ago to 65 on Saturday against the Victoria HarbourCats.
It just so happened that number, plus four extra pitches, carried him through six scoreless innings with one strikeout and five hits scattered across them.
“I feel like command is always key and I was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes,” Rons said. “I kind of pride myself on trying to get ahead early and get to two strikes as quick as possible. I couldn’t get as many strikeouts as I wanted to, but I got a lot of early contact.
“It’s probably the most efficient I’ve been … it’s good to be efficient,” Rons said.
Between Rons and an error-free Ridgefield defense, plus another balanced offensive performance from top to bottom, the Raptors cruised to a 12-0 in over the HarbourCats and clinched the series with one game left to play Sunday at Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Center.
The win also marked the fourth shutout in Ridgefield team history dating back to 2019. Remarkably, two of the four have come in the last week. First was a 5-0 win against the Portland Pickles on Wednesday, and just three days later, the Raptors added another.
“Our pitching coach Tyler Raskin is really bearing down on them a little bit, and I think they’re getting better every time out,” Ridgefield head coach Chris Cota said of the Raptors’ pitching staff. “They’re realizing they’re here to get work in, and it’s showing.”
Chandler De Jong pitched two innings following Rons, before Ryan Obrecht finished the game in the ninth and got out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout to end the game.
Rons was one of the late arrivals in Ridgefield activated on June 14, following a freshman season at UC Santa Barbara in which he appeared in three games as a reliever. This summer, he hopes, will help him learn how to be a starter and get deeper into games. With Saturday’s performance, so far, so good.
“I don’t want to really stop there, I want to build off this and keep my foot on the gas pedal,” Rons said.
The Raptors (12-7) broke through in the third inning with a two-out, four-inning rally to take a 5-0 lead, before adding another three runs in the following inning. In a role reversal from Friday’s series opener Victoria (8-11) took an early 5-0 lead with two outs in the second, Ridgefield’s first eight runs of Saturday’s game also came with two outs.
“Pretty impressive by our hitters with two-out base hits, and putting the ball in play with two outs,” Cota said. “Obviously, getting some help on seeing-eye balls, but that’s baseball, and it’s nice to get a good lead early.”
Ridgefield (12-7) has now won three straight series dating back to last weekend’s three-game homestand against the Cowlitz Black Bears, which came after the Raptors dropped two of three at home to Edmonton.
“I think we’ve got a pretty darn good team,” Cota said. “I think that these guys like each other, they’ve jelled together and hopefully we can keep playing good baseball.”
The Raptors currently sit in third place of the West Coast League South Division standings behind the Bend Elks (14-6) in second and ahead of fourth-place Portland (9-6)
Well, that escalated quickly – Already with a 1-0 lead, the Raptors exploded for four runs with two outs in the third inning. Austin Caviness dropped a chopper that resulted in a Victoria fielding error and two runs scored, before Alex Sepulveda tacked on a two-run single. Ridgefield got right back to work in the fourth with a Will Chambers RBI single, followed by a two-run Doyle Kane base hit.
Timely double play – Victoria came closest to scoring in the fifth when Luke Cheng hit a deep shot that bounced off the left field fence for a double. But, Noah Sudkya later grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the frame.
Preserving a zero – The Raptors’ shutout appeared to be in jeopardy after a trio of Victoria singles loaded the bases in the ninth with two outs. However, Obrecht worked back to strike out Sudyka looking for the final out.
Doyle Kane – The first baseman and No. 5 hitter continued a strong series, batting 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. For the series, Kane is 7-for-9.
Cooper Rons – Ridgefield struggled on the mound at times in the series opener, though Rons, a 6-foot-2 pitcher from UC Santa Barbara, was steady throughout six innings.
Alex Sepulveda – On the heels of hitting his first home run in a Raptors uniform on Friday, Sepulveda plated two runs during the third inning and scored a pair of runs.
9 – Runs Ridgefield scored with two outs on Saturday.
69 – Number of pitches Rons threw, 51 of which were strikes, in six innings.
91°F – The temperature forecast in Ridgefield at 1 p.m. Sunday for the series finale. The National Weather Service Portland office issued a heat advisory warning for Oregon and Southwest Washington that goes through Monday, and temperatures are expected to reach the upper 90s on Sunday.
RIDGEFIELD 12, VICTORIA 0
Victoria 000 000 000—0 10 2
Ridgefield 014 313 00x— 12 11 0
Pitching – Loreto Siniscalchi 3.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 3 K, 3 BB; Walker Bordovsky 2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 K, 3 BB.; Jacob Popadynec 2 IP, 1 H, 3 ER, 0 K, 6 BB; Jake Skipworth 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Jessada Brown 1-3; Shane Jamison 1-1; Michael Tsoukalas 1-1; Josh Rolling 2-3; Tyler Pettit 1-3; Russell Young 1-1; Luke Cheng 3-4.
Pitching – Cooper Rons 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB; Chandler De Jong 2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 K, 1 BB; Ryan Obrecht 1.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Jake Tsukada 1-3; Mikey Kane 2-4, R, 2B, RBI; Jacob Sharp 1-3, 2 R; Will Chambers 1-3, 2 R, RBI; Doyle Kane 2-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI; Austin Caviness 1-3, 3 R, RBI; Alex Sepulveda 1-2, 2 R, 2 RBI; Travis Welker 2-3, RBI; Stephen Espinoza RBI; Lateef Wakil RBI.